Remember the days when a new Harry Potter manuscript was like gold dust and everyone would go absolutely crazy to get their hands on it before it was officially released?
Well, back in 2005 when JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince was due for release, top British surveillance agency GCHQ apparently intervened to stop a potential leak from happening.
Or so the story goes, according to Nigel Newton, the founder of Bloomsbury Publishing – aka. Harry Potter’s UK literary home.
“I remember the British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said ‘we’ve detected an early copy of this book on the Internet,” he told Australia’s ABC radio during an interview.
“If newspapers splashed ‘Dumbledore dies’ what pleasure is there going to be for a kid reading it? The enemies stood to ruin a great deal of pleasure for the world.”
It turns out the copy of the book was a fake, though: Newton established that pretty quickly by having the contact at GCHQ read a page of the discovered manuscript over the phone.
And it wasn’t exactly an unusual situation for Newton and his team to find themselves in, he revealed.
“It was completely mad and we were at the eye of the storm – I remember Jo Rowling phoning me once after she had delivered a new book saying, ‘please will you release the name of the title because I have people outside searching my trash can looking for bits of paper’”, the publishing veteran explained.
As for GCHQ? Well, the Sunday Times contacted them for comment and their response was pretty magical: “We do not comment on our defence against the dark arts.”
Now there’s an organisation that knows how to manage its mischief.